Sunday, January 12th, 2020
The other day one of our volunteers was being mobbed by an unruly group of large ruminants. A few bystanders were trying to help her get into her truck without incident. We were all having a great deal of trouble. Well — upon further investigation, we found she had made the grave mistake of keeping cookies in her pockets. COOKIES: no wonder. She hurriedly and perhaps somewhat desperately tossed the cookies over the hood of the truck to me, took off down the driveway, and I, literally left holding the bag, made a beeline for the front door, buffeted from side to side by goat bodies, just barely making it to safety while still keeping my shoes on. Cookies are an excellent but powerful tool and must be used with extreme discretion.
Dinner is a completely different story. I, not being all that interested in eating grain and oats, cannot with any honesty say if dinner is less interesting than Mrs. Pastures’ cookies. One can, however, conduct a scientific experiment. Shake a bag of cookies and the entire farm’s population (e.g. several thousand pounds of hooved creatures) will instantly appear at the back door. On the other hand, organizing everyone at dinner time to go to their appointed eating spots is often like putting the wrong end of two magnets together.
Mostly the goats go where they are supposed to, primarily because they will follow anything that looks like it has food in it. Dee Dee Donkey will bray right in my face (primarily to protest that her meal is late, AS ALWAYS) and then head into her little paddock. Salvo the horse will often walk right into his stall. He knows the deal. But there are some rogue characters – and surprisingly they are sheep. I just want to let it be known that the next person who tells me sheep are stupid will be assigned to do evening feedings here.
In order for you to understand what goes on with these sheep, we’ll need to talk about Thomas – as in Thomas you hear about in church. Or not. He wasn’t, I suppose, compared to the other apostles, a truly major character. In fact, you never really hear much about good old Thomas (whose real name was Didymus, but I think you all would agree that Thomas is easier to pronounce). Thomas seemed to be doing a walkabout when Jesus appeared after His resurrection and so Thomas missed all the action. I can relate. I always seem to be meandering about, either literally or mentally and if I’m meant to be somewhere, I’m nearly always late. So I kind of like this guy, Thomas.
Thomas wasn’t quite with the program and so wasn’t there when Jesus came back after his death. Thomas thought that was really pretty unlikely stuff, and needed proof. He was like, “dudes, seeing is believing.” Poor Thomas. People might think he’s sub-par because he would not give his faith without question. I think he is, however, the most real of the apostles because it’s so easy to understand his confusion.
Alas, my sheep, those creatures so lauded in Christianity as being sweet and innocent, are, in reality, untrusting, unbelieving, rude skeptics. They need proof. Every day – not just once in a while but EVERY DAY – we have the same conversation.
Farmer: “It’s dinner time.”
Farmer: “Well, you need to go in here so that I close the gate and serve you your food.”
Sheep: “Where’s the food.”
Farmer: “It’s inside. I’m bringing it now.”
Sheep: “I don’t see any food. I’m not getting locked in someplace when there is no food.”
Farmer: “Trust me, there is food.”
Sheep: “Last time you told me that, the vet showed up.”
Farmer: “That was two months ago.”
Sheep: “WELL? Why don’t you bring the food before you ask me to go get ready to eat? If the food isn’t ready, then I’m not ready to eat.” (mumbles under breath something vaguely profane)
Farmer: “I can’t bring it till you are in the pen.”
Sheep: “I really don’t see what your problem is. Show me the food.”
There is more, much along the same lines. It’s very tiresome. But annoyance all goes away when I see the joy in their eyes upon spotting the magical bucket full of yummy, warm grain. Holy Moly, they make a beeline and by golly, they KNOW that There Is Dinner.
Take it from the sheep: eating is believing.